TRUE SPIRIT – Review by Liz Braun

Jessica Watson was 16 when she sailed solo around the world, a feat that captured international attention and made her a hero in Australia. The teen left her home in Sydney in the fall of 2009 and returned home seven months later, just before her 17th birthday. Her extraordinary achievement was featured in the documentary 210 Days: Around the World with Jessica Watson; now True Spirit, a Netflix feature starring Teagan Croft as Watson, covers the same ground, only with hair and makeup.

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80 FOR BRADY – Review by T.J. Callahan

At least Tom Brady has something to look forward to this February. Welcome to AARP Theater. When the median age of the four female stars of a movie is 84, expect a lot of old timer jokes along with flirting, fumbling and finally inspiration. That’s exactly what you get if your game plan includes 80 For Brady, the inspired by true events story of four New England Patriot fans who decide to go to Super Bowl 51 in Houston to see their beloved Tom Brady play in person.

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80 FOR BRADY – Review by Susan Kamyab

80 For Brady plays out about as well as Tom Brady did in his last game against the Cowboys. It’s a major fumble in almost every aspect. 80 for Brady is loosely based on the true story of a group of best friends who are Tom Brady superfans. In the film, they take a life-changing trip to the Superbowl to see their hero play. The journey to get to the game has a few of bumps along the way, including lost tickets, health scares, and an accidental drugging. And through all that, you might chuckle a few times, but a lot of the comedy is forced and rushed.

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SAINT OMER – Review by Diane Carson

The central tragedy of French director Alice Diop’s Saint Omer is as unusual as it is perplexing, based on a real 2016 court case. In the film Laurence Coly takes her mixed-race, fifteen-month-old baby Elise to Berck-sur-Mer, a depressed resort area within a national park on the Opal Coast, northern France. Shockingly, she abandons Elise on the sandy beach.

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WOMEN TALKING – Review by Diane Carson

Both intimate and expansive in exploring weighty ideas, Women Talking lingers in its intellectual engagement, never cynical or dismissive, ever provocative and stimulating. Sarah Polley has crafted one of the best films of the decade, never mind of the year.

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AMERICAN MURDERER – Review by Diane Carson

American Murderer profiles real-life con man Jason Derek Brown. Villains, especially fascinating con artists, often dominate a film’s dramatic focus. They’re the dynamic, mesmerizing characters with charisma, or how else would they succeed? The iconic Alfred Hitchcock used this often, commenting that the most successful criminals presented a disconcertingly engaging façade. These ideas govern writer/director Matthew Gentile’s American Murderer, based on the true story of conman Jason Derek Brown.

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SAINT OMER – Review by Loren King

You’ve likely never seen a mother/daughter film like Saint Omer, a courtroom drama that defies the expected histrionics and finality of the genre’s conventions. Instead, writer/director Alice Diop delivers an intimate, unsentimental film that quietly but steadily accumulates in power. Saint Omer gradually and with subtlety peels back layers to reveal issues of culture and class, racism and misogyny, motherhood and daughterhood, and how Black women struggle to be seen in relationships, families, countries, courts. There is no cathartic conclusion. But Saint Omer ends on a compelling note with Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of Little Girl Blue which never sounded so sorrowful yet defiant.

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THE SWIMMERS – Review by Lois Alter Mark

At a time when the governors of Texas and Florida are callously using refugees as political pawns, The Swimmers is a must-watch movie that puts individual human faces to the staggering number of people escaping war-torn countries to find a safe place to live. Almost seven million Syrians have become refugees since 2011 when civil war broke out, and The Swimmers, which is based on a true story, solidly focuses on two of them while never losing sight of the rest.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 21, 2022: WOMEN TALKING

Morality, autonomy, agency, and community intersect in writer/director Sarah Polley‘s absorbing drama Women Talking. Literary in its pedigree — it’s adapted from Canadian author Miriam Toews’ same-named 2018 novel — and play-like in its simplicity of setting and scope, the thought-provoking film explores what happens when a group of women in a conservative, isolated religious colony must make a decision that will affect all of their lives forever.

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Polley, McDormand, Gardener and Toews Talk WOMEN TALKING – Leslie Combemale reports

Writer/director Sarah Polley’s new film Women Talking has received nearly universal acclaim from critics. It’s pretty remarkable that a film based on such horrible abuse can have moments of joy and humor, but that was baked into the novel by Miriam Toews, on which the screenplay is based. In advance of the film’s release, Toews, writer/director Sarah Polley, Frances McDormand (co-star of the movie and one of its producers), and Dede Gardner, president of Plan B, got together for a spirited discussion and virtual Q&A about Women Talking. Those taking part were asked about the process of interpreting the true story and how it took shape.

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